NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF., – The High Desert Racing Association (HDRA) put on a challenging 250-mile race on a hot summer night through the Southern Nevada desert. The 5-lap, 50-mile loop course offered up an array of terrain from flat out fast to technical mountain, canyons and was littered with deep pools of mud from the recent monsoons that hit the area earlier on in the week.

The race weekend started off Saturday morning with the Monster Energy Pit Crew Challenge. The Team MLR crew worked in a blistering speed changing out their Raceline wheel / Goodyear tire combo but a hiccup on a couple lug nuts forced Team MLR to settle for 2nd fastest for the day in the pit crew challenge.

As the race night fell upon the HDRA racers Saturday night, Team MLR was as ready and prepared as they could be with a completely new and untested motor and transmission combination. The team could only hope that all-new fabrication would work as excepted.  “We have worked very hard designing and fabricating the new powertrain for the race truck over the past couple months” says Matt Lovell, Team MLR’s #7244 driver and team owner. He continued, “With all of these new parts and not being able to have adequate testing time it’s a gamble. But I’m feeling very confident in the truck and also in the crew to get us to the finish line.”

The Team MLR ripped off the line with their Lazer Star Lights blazing a path in front of them and the new Ford power plant propelling them into the night. Matt and navigator Paul Baker of Neo Synthetics oil set down extremely consistent lap times. Their lap times were down to the second! The race truck came in for scheduled pit stops and went off without a hitch, thanks to the very well prepared crew. With a constant and steady 2ndposition from lap one. Matt and Paul held tight until lap 5 when a bolt rattled loose on the newly-built shifter, which then prevented the race truck to go into gear. Stuck and blocking the course, quick thinking prevailed and they were able to get the truck into a safe area to be worked on. Finally, after some intuitive thinking, Matt and Paul were able to get the race truck going after they had pulled a nut from the header bolt.

With time running out and a 2nd place in jeopardy, Matt put the hammer down to make up lost time. Staying focused and pushing the race truck to the limits, “I just kept the pedal down and hung it out as far as I could,” driver Matt Lovell stated. The last 40 miles of the race became a true testament of what Team MLR’s #7244 race truck and team are capable of. Limits and parts were put to the test. Slamming into each and every whoop the ruffstuff heims kept the suspension and steering in check while the Yukon axles and gearing kept the power down to the ground.
Photo: Stacy Rye

With the dawn chasing down the dark of the night, Team MLR’s #7244 mid-sized trophy truck pulled into the finish line piloted by Matt Lovell and Paul Baker.  7244’s Co-pilot and Navigator Paul Baker reflects on the HDRA Dusk Till Dawn race, “I’m very pleased on how the truck ran ‘out of the box’ and with no real time to test its capabilities. This 2nd place really gave us the boost that we needed. Also I’m very thankful for having such a great crew and I can’t wait to race the upcoming HDRA Laughlin short-course race.”

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